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's a great statement about the humility of joseph ratzinger, as he will become at the moment of his abdication once again. and in a strange way, this is his last great service to the church. he wants the church to have the kind of strong leadership that it needs. as i understand it, the process will unfold rather much like the process would unfold had the pope died except for the fact that the cardinals will obviously now be gathering in rome in the weeks before february 28th so that they can enter the conclave immediately on the abdication of the pope and begin the process of choosing his successor, which could take several days or several weeks. >> for those who are not familiar with this process, the papal conclave will be convened and require a tw-thirds majority among the cardinals to elect a successor? >> that's correct. and one thing about the timing of this that is interesting is that the college of cardinals is now just about as full as it can be. the maximum number of the electors is set at 120. i think we're almost there right now. so, this will be the largest conclave in
. >> joseph ratzinger, matt, in 2005, was one of only two cardinals who had participated in the papal elections. the two elections of 1978. he knows exactly what the purchas burden of responsibility is that these men are taking on themselves. he knows the conflicting emotions that many of them have. some of which greg and father baron have just described. i think he was saying to them, look, i know how you feel. and i am going to be with you in solidarity and in prayer over the next several weeks. of what is going to be a difficult test. >> at the same time, he has made clear, he does not want to exert undue influence on the process. this is not somebody who's behind the scenes twisting arms saying this should be the next pope? absolutely not, savannah. he is going to disappear. we're not going to see this man for months. he's too much a respecter of the process. he's too much of a respecter of his brother cardinals. and he's too, frankly, humble a human being to try to monkey in any way whatsoever with the selection of his successor. >> matt? >> yeah, i was curious, though, and fathe
. what has struck me in the 25 years i have known the man who will return to being joseph ratzinger, is the simplicity of his soul. this is a thoroughly convinced christian believer who happens to be one of the smartest people in the world who speaks six or seven languages with complete flewency, who knows the history of biblical religion from "a" to "z." who never wanted to be an executive, a manager, who always thought of himself primarily as a scholar. but who somehow could translate all of that learning into beautiful simplicities about god's love for the world and for god's people. >> and, george, even as we honor the service of this pope, we look forward to the election of a new pope. and tell us about this process. i mean, is this a sort of thing where, for lack of a better term, there are front-runners? >> there will be an enormous amount of ink spilled in the italian press over the next two weeks about front-runners. most of that would be silly. there are a number of cardinals who fit what would seem to me to be the profile. first of all, a man in full physical vigor. that
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